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20 Proven Customer Service Conflict Resolution Tips

Table of Contents

What is Customer Service Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution in customer service means resolving customer complaints and reducing tension between the customer and the company through different means to improve customer satisfaction

It can be frustrating to work with a customer who is upset, and you may feel like you’ve done your very best, but they’re still not satisfied.

These disputes are bound to happen, so it’s important to know how to handle them.

Anyone who has ever been on both sides of the customer service counter knows how dissatisfying interactions can be.

Keep reading to become an expert on how to deal with difficult customers and resolve conflicts.

Customer Service Conflict Resolution

At the heart of customer service conflict resolution is a clear understanding of the issue. Before anything else, take the time to fully comprehend what the problem is.

According to a survey, about 50% of customers leave a brand due to poor service, much of which is often rooted in misunderstanding the problem.

By identifying and clearly defining the issue, you can better address it, improving customer retention in the process.

Never Lose Your Calm

When customers raise their voices, it can feel like they’re out of control and that you’re in a fight, which can make you lose your own composure. Try to remain as calm as possible.

The best thing you can do when a customer is upset is to calmly talk to them and try to get them to see the situation from your point of view.

If you respond in an angry or accusatory way, it may make the customer feel like you’re doing everything you can to show them they’re wrong.

The customer service employee’s point of view is also important.

If you take a moment to think about what the customer service employee has said, you may see things differently and understand why he or she feels the way they do. This can help you find a solution together.

Recommended: How to Improve Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) in 2023

Honest Communication

Honesty plays a key role in effective customer service conflict resolution. If there’s an issue you can’t resolve immediately, communicate that to the customer transparently.

Studies suggest that customers appreciate transparency and are more likely to stick with businesses that offer honest communication.

Establish What the Issue is

In customer service conflict resolution, it’s essential to precisely understand the issue at hand.

Clarifying the customer’s problem is the first step towards a solution, and it involves active listening, empathy, and analytical skills.

Active listening requires giving your full attention to the customer, asking probing questions, and summarizing their responses to confirm your understanding.

Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that you correctly understand their issue.

When trying to identify the problem, try to empathize with the customer’s situation. Understand their emotional state and why they might be upset.

A survey found that “feeling appreciated” is the most important factor in building strong customer relationships, and this feeling can be cultivated by displaying empathy and understanding during conflict resolution.

Adopt the Customer’s Perspective

Being able to see the situation from the customer’s point of view is a critical skill in customer service conflict resolution.

About 49% of consumers switch companies due to feeling unappreciated, according to a NewVoice Media report.

By stepping into your customers’ shoes, you can gain valuable insight into their emotions and expectations, making them feel understood and valued.

Keep The Tone Courteous and Friendly

Maintaining a courteous and friendly tone throughout the customer service interaction is a vital aspect of successful conflict resolution.

It sets the stage for a positive exchange, even when dealing with difficult situations.

When customers reach out with a problem, they might be frustrated or upset.

By responding with a friendly and respectful tone, you can help ease their discomfort and open up a channel for constructive conversation.

According to research from the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, customers who are spoken to in a friendly manner feel more satisfied with their interaction and are more likely to have a positive view of the company.

Being courteous involves using polite language, showing appreciation for the customer’s patience or understanding, and apologizing for any inconvenience caused.

A survey by Accenture revealed that 68% of customers who quit doing business with a company do so because they feel poorly treated.

A courteous demeanor can thus go a long way in retaining customers.

Avoid Resorting to Threats

If you’ve tried the reasonable approach and the customer still isn’t satisfied, you’re probably going to have to resort to some sort of escalation.

Things like threatening to end the service relationship or calling the police may feel like the right approach, but they don’t really help solve the problem.

Instead, try to think of the customers as people who need to understand something important.

If you know why you’re doing something, you can present it in a way that is relatable and understandable. If you’re arguing about it, you’re probably not getting at the truth.

Of course, it’s important to show that you’re getting to the truth. You may have a very good reason for why you’re collecting a particular type of data, but if the customer is really pissed

Assess The Problem, and be Kind

Remember that you have someone with a legitimate complaint on your hands.

You don’t want to use harsh words or coldly ask them to leave, but you also don’t want to give them any hope that they will be able to get what they want out of you.

You don’t have to treat them like the devil; they’re not. So, be direct.

Assess the situation and be kind.

Use constructive words such as “Is there anything else I can help you with?” or “I’m really sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do to make it better?”

Go beyond their words: Many times, people lash out at customer service because they don’t have any real facts on the table.

If they don’t have a receipt or some other proof that their order was ruined, they feel that they’re somehow at a disadvantage.

Understand the Customer’s Perspective

There are a lot of factors that go into what a customer is asking for. Perhaps it’s a new feature or an exchange that wasn’t working as they had expected.

Understanding their experience will help you better understand the dispute and how to address it.

If you understand what’s actually happening, then you have a better chance of resolving it.

Be Empathetic and Explain Why the Problem Occurred

When you speak with the customer, try not to be too judgmental and take into consideration the context of why they’re unhappy.

In many cases, there’s a clear explanation that can help you solve the problem.

For example, if you say “I’m sorry you’re disappointed, but we cannot provide your request at this time,” then you’re doing more to ensure that the customer will not be disappointed.

The customer who is having a problem with you may be upset for many reasons, or may not have a clear idea of what they’re actually upset about.

Their frustration and upset might be triggered by something as insignificant as accidentally pressing the wrong button on the keyboard or by something as serious as a lost contract.

You might be angry with the customer because you feel like they’re trying to pull a fast one on you.

They may be angry with you because they took their business elsewhere and are determined to get you to pay up.

Whatever the cause, you need to understand the customer’s perspective to be able to resolve the situation and move on.

Keep a Record

The most important thing you can do to help yourself through a customer service dispute is to have a written record.

The customer having a problem with you may be upset for many reasons, or may not have a clear idea of what they’re actually upset about.

Their frustration and upset might be triggered by something as insignificant as accidentally pressing the wrong button on the keyboard or by something as serious as a lost contract.

You might be angry with the customer because you feel like they’re trying to pull a fast one on you.

They may be angry with you because they took their business elsewhere and are determined to get you to pay up.

Whatever the cause, you need to understand the customer’s perspective to be able to resolve the situation and move on.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand your customer’s perspective. What are they looking for? Maybe they’re frustrated with their experience, or they just want to vent.

Either way, your customer is paying for your products or services, and it’s your job to make them as pleasant as possible. So try to listen to what they have to say and put yourself in their shoes.

Don’t be Defensive

Don’t overreact when you first encounter a customer service issue. It’s not your fault if the customer is having a bad day, and there’s a chance that their complaint is nothing to do with you at all.

Take a deep breath and give them the benefit of the doubt. Give them time to vent, and then do your best to explain what’s going on.

Sometimes, the customer doesn’t know what they want. They may have a reasonable request that doesn’t fit within your product or service.

You may have a valid reason for delaying or changing your product or service, and it’s not your fault that they aren’t able to accept it. Take a deep breath, and try to help them find a solution that works for them.

It will be a lot easier on all of you if you can agree on something outside of the online interface.

The best approach to handling a customer service dispute is to be patient and not force them to walk away from the conversation until they’re satisfied.

Before you make your statement, offer to provide a little more information.

Ask the customer if they would like to hear something more from you about why they’re upset.

Try to explain why their statement upset you so much. They may not understand why they offended you so much, so you might have to explain in more detail.

Perhaps you can give it a second chance for another try. This will also allow you to calm down and relax.

Do Your Best

If your customer service provider is providing an excellent level of service, you should be willing to overlook a minor complaint in return for such service. However, if you have to argue with them over.

When someone has a problem with a product or service, it is frustrating. You want to help them solve their problem as quickly as possible.

In most cases, however, your customer is just looking for answers to their questions, and they probably want a bit more information before they make a decision.

This is understandable, and while it can be frustrating, it’s important to remain patient. Be direct and to the point, and let them know that you are doing everything you can.

Keep Your Composure

Keeping your composure is crucial when dealing with difficult customers.

No matter how irate or unreasonable the customer might be, remember to stay calm.

Research from The Harvard Business Review reveals that customers value effective problem-solving and being treated with kindness above all else.

Maintaining a composed demeanor can help foster a more positive interaction.

Take a Break

As upsetting as it may be, you don’t have to keep a customer service dispute going indefinitely.

Take a break. If you’re not able to resolve a conflict immediately, take a moment to gather your thoughts.

After a while, return to the customer service counter and try again.

This will give the customer a chance to cool off and remember why they came to you in the first place.

Don’t avoid the problem Even though it might be tempting to avoid the problem completely, it can actually be more important to address it head-on.

You should try to take a step back and realize the bigger picture. Make the customer’s experience as pleasant as possible.

Making him or her happy isn’t worth upsetting them in the first place.

Just about everyone will tell you it’s best to take a break from the issue after a customer service dispute.

For a situation like this, where the customer is still annoyed with your company, it’s a good idea to cool off a bit.

Then, come back to the issue and try to resolve the conflict. It’s also helpful if you let the customer know when they have your attention, that you’re still there and that you’re listening.

Just like in the office, people can lose sight of the big picture and lose focus. A little bit of downtime can bring perspective.

State the Problem Clearly

When you’re in a customer service dispute, it’s helpful to be able to state the problem clearly.

Often, that’s easy when the customer has a list of things they are upset about, like a long order that’s been incomplete.

This is a very simple solution. It only takes a few seconds for you to step away from the conflict and take a moment to breathe.

Distract yourself and try to forget about what’s happening on the other side of the counter. Remind yourself why you became a customer service rep in the first place.

Find a way to help the customer, regardless of their annoyance.

If you’re feeling stressed out by the customer’s aggressive tone or what they’re saying, it’s better to keep your cool and remain calm.

Don’t get angry. Instead, offer a calm explanation of the situation.

Be Persistent

Resolve this problem or customer service dispute only when it is necessary.

There is no point in getting someone upset and giving them even more reason to turn their ire on you. Be patient

This is an obvious piece of advice, but it’s important to take a moment to calm yourself before getting back on the phone with a customer or trying to handle a dispute.

Sometimes, there’s a reasonable explanation for what the customer is saying or the reason behind the problem.

Sometimes, it’s not. Regardless, getting angry isn’t going to solve the problem. Take a few minutes to regroup and re-calibrate.

Check Your Expectations

It’s a shame when a customer becomes upset, but it’s also a reality of service.

If you aren’t clear about what you want, you may be setting your customer up for frustration, or worse, problems.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of the customer, and ask what you can do to make them happy. Are you a new or struggling company?

Is there a problem with their order? A common complaint might be with customer service itself, which is understandable, but there are steps you can take to make their lives easier.

Tell them what to expect If you haven’t done so already, make sure that your customers are aware of how they’ll be communicating with you. A solution might be a standard number to call, email, or chat window.

Consumers aren’t looking for you to solve all their problems, no matter how much they’re paying.

It can be tempting to take on the role of the problem-solver, but you’ll end up sacrificing your own satisfaction if you do so.

Be Realistic About the Problem

Rather than telling your customer, you’ll change something, tell them you’re willing to work together to find a solution.

Explain that you’re the expert on your product, so you’re not going to say that something is wrong with it even if you think it is. And work with them to fix the issue.

Offer to Help

Sometimes, it isn’t the product that’s the problem, but the way the customer has configured it.

The issues you have are less important than how your customer is using your product. This is called providing customer support.

Asking customers what they expect to happen can help ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Before you call someone back, make sure you know what you want to accomplish.

The first step to solving the problem is simply to hear them out. Often, you can arrive at a mutually satisfying resolution simply by listening to your customer.

Remember that their complaint is a result of their actions.

Trying to figure out the root cause of the problem by pointing out that the product or service they purchased doesn’t have any issues can make the customer feel like you’re blaming them.

Although the frustration may come from their own actions, it’s important to think of the root cause of their issue.

Don’t Threaten

There are many reasons why customers want a product or service.

When a dispute arises, your goal should be to come up with a resolution that the customer can accept.

By keeping an open mind and anticipating their needs, you can avoid arguments and frustration.

If the customer doesn’t appear to have a legitimate complaint, you might be able to get them to agree to lower their expectations for your company and avoid future conflicts.

Remember that these conversations don’t always have a right or wrong outcome.

While your company does have the right to charge any necessary taxes or fees, the customer might have been disappointed by the time and money spent on your product or service, or they might be looking to leverage a product that’s currently out of stock and impossible to buy elsewhere.


It can be very hard to train your customer support agents to reflect the principles and techniques that are suited best with your customers and help in avoiding conflicts so that you can create a better customer retention funnel.

Also, cultivating a natural tone of patience in new and inexperienced agents is not a piece of cake. they could easily lash out at your customers, make a small conflict big, which could set you out of the game.

The competition is so tough that your customer will not even think a second before changing to an alternative.

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